Designing an Accessible Classroom @ CUNY

The Winter 2018 Retreat is a great opportunity for members from the CUNY Centers for Teaching and Learning to engage in discussions about current pedagogical trends and innovations. This year, the retreat will focus on Designing an Accessible Classroom at CUNY.
The CUNY CTL Advisory Council also aims to establish a repository of resources for Institutions to use as they are exploring accessibility.


10:00 am – 10:10 am Welcome Remarks

Lucinda Zoe, University Dean for Undergraduate Studies

10:15 am – 10:55 am Accessibility at CUNY: What do we currently have? What is in the planning?
Barbara Bookman (Central Student Affairs; CUNY LEADS)
Barbara Bookman is the University Director of Disability Services at CUNY which also includes serving as director of CUNY LEADS an initiative that prepares students with disabilities across the CUNY colleges for successful career outcomes, Director of Project REACH for our students on the spectrum and project director for a new in development program for students with intellectual disabilities at the university called CUNY Unlimited. Prior to joining student affairs she served as the Director of Services for Students with Disabilities at Queensborough Community College. While at Queensborough she was the co-chair of COSDI (CUNY Committee on Student Disability Issues). For over thirty years her primary focus has been on access and opportunity for students with disabilities.
Raymond Perez (Co-Chair COSDI; Hostos)
Raymond Perez is proud to serve as the director of the Accessibility Resource Center at Hostos Community College and comes to us with 13 years of diverse and progressively responsible experience in higher education disability services administration. He began his career at Brooklyn College as an Assistive Technology Specialist designing leading-edge technology solutions to address digital access barriers. He went on to serve as a Disability Accommodation Specialist ,interpreting disability documentation and creating accommodation profile that promoted access and success for students with disabilities.
Based upon the richness and depth of Mr. Perez’ experiences working with students with disabilities CUNY hired him as part of the inaugural class of CUNY LEADS counselors; in this role, he promoted the career readiness and transition to competitive employment for Brooklyn College students with disabilities. Sparked by a desire to assume leadership roles in postsecondary disabilities services, Ray served as the Assistant Director of Disability Services at Baruch College, where he coordinated much of the day-to-day operations of the College’s disability services program. Ray considers himself very fortunate to learn and serve alongside CUNY’ world class faculty, outstanding professional staff, and remarkable students. Ray is devoted to student engagement and leadership development, he proudly serves as the moderator of the CUNY Coalition for Students with disabilities and was appointed by Chancellor Milliken to serve on the University Student Senate’s Election Review Committee.
Perla Lopez (Student Leader Designing for All Project; LaG)
After being dismissed from SUNY New Paltz after failing all her classes due to a debilitating antidepressant withdrawal, Perla decided she wanted to continue her education and wasn’t going to let one bad experience stop her. She enrolled at LaGuardia right after her dismissal and has dedicated herself to using every-day leadership to empower and encourage those around her and giving back to the organizations that have given so much to her, including LaGuardia CC, College Discovery, and recently, the Peer Advisor Academy. Perla enjoys writing creative nonfiction based around the every-day struggles that children growing up in communities face, most of which is based on the experiences of herself and her siblings. She is a strong advocate for affordable housing, LGBT+ rights, education accessibility, and mental health, among many other movements.
Christian Manzanares (Student Leader Designing for All Project; LaG)
11:00 am  – 11:45 am Panel Discussion I: What is “accessibility”? What is “UDL”? Participants learn some issues/trends and documents/resources available to provide a broader perspective on the topic

Patricia Fleming (regulation; Co-Chair COSDI; Baruch)
Patricia Clarke Fleming, LMHC, CRC, is the Director for Student Disability Services at Baruch College. Patricia has dedicated her career to ensuring CUNY Students with disabilities have access to everything CUNY has to offer. Patricia earned her Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degree at Hunter College. From 2010-2016 she was Manager of Disability Services at Bronx Community College. Ms. Fleming served proudly as Co-Chair of CUNY’s Council on Student Disability Issues (COSDI) from 2015 to 2017. In 2017, she presented at both the CUNY IT Conference and the CUNY Accessibility Conference.
Jessica Murray (web accessibility; GC)
Jessica Murray is a doctoral student in developmental psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY and a Futures Initiative Graduate Fellow. Her interests include mobilities, transportation, technology, disability studies, accessibility, and disability rights. She earned a BFA in Design from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003 and worked as a graphic designer in a variety of media before coming to The Graduate Center in 2012 for an MA on the Psychology of Work and Family Track. As a Digital Fellow with the Center for the Humanities from 2014-2016 and Futures Initiative Fellow from 2016-present, she has designed and developed multiple WordPress projects on OpenCUNY and other hosting platforms, and facilitated group resources such as the CUNY Disability Scholars website ( She recently redesigned the Futures Initiative website to improve accessibility, and provides technical support and training for site users.
Jenn Polish (anti-ableist approach; LaG)
Jenn Polish is a YA fantasy author and instructor of Theatre and English at CUNY LaGuardia Community College. Their debut novel, LUNAV — a lesbian fairy tale set in a world where dragons hatch from trees — is set for release with NineStar Press in March 2018. Their research interests as they pursue their PhD in English at the CUNY Graduate Center include mental health and race in writing classrooms and the intersections of dis/ability, race, and trauma in children’s literature and media.
  • Student reps
11:50 am – 12:50 pm Breakout Session I and Working Lunch

Participants pick one theme and go to the relevant table. Based on what they learned in the first panel discussion, discuss what topics can be covered under the theme. Come up with questions to bring up with the second panel discussion.

12:55 pm – 1:40 pm Panel Discussion II: Specific, practical aspects; specific practices and suggestions
Antonia Levy (Blackboard and other technology; SPS)
Antonia Levy is an East German transplant to New York and is currently the Instructional Technology and Multimedia Manager at CUNY School of Professional Studies. Working in faculty development and instructional technology, she is dedicated the implementation of universal design as part of the struggle for more equality in higher education. Antonia is also finishing her dissertation in sociology at the Graduate Center, and has been teaching for many years as an adjunct instructor at several CUNY colleges.
Louis Olander (pedagogy; Hunter)
Louis Olander is a doctoral candidate in the Urban Education program at the CUNY Graduate Center, and teaches graduate and undergraduate students about inclusive education and assessment of students with dis/abilities in the Special Education department at Hunter College. Previously, he taught special education in New York City. His website, is designed to help teachers who are new to Universal Design for Learning get a start through a series of cartoon videos that introduce the big ideas in an accessible way.
Fumio Someki (learning & cognitive disabilities; CSI)
Prior to joining the faculty at the School of Education at the College of Staten Island, Dr. Someki worked as a university faculty member and certified clinical psychologist in Japan. Her ongoing research projects include: improving educational assessment practices in juvenile justice settings and, in collaboration with researchers in Japan, cross-cultural perspectives of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) diagnosis and its stigma in society. Dr. Someki also has rich experiences both in the United States and Japan in assessing and providing services for students with disabilities, such as ASD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Her work on assessment also includes the translation and adaptation/standardization of several major North American assessment tools into Japanese (e.g., Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales, Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition). Dr. Someki believes that solid assessment holds the key to developing effective individual education plans (IEPs) and intervention planning for all students.
1:45 pm – 2:30 pm Breakout Session II 

Create ideas for a workshop to be offered on their own campus, based on what they learned from the second panel. Finalize thoughts/plans to bring their campus.

2:35 pm -2:55 pm Groups Report Back
2:55 pm -3:00 pm Closing Remarks

Retreat Video Playlist

Presentation Decks

Group Discussions

Click on the links to access a working space to contribute to the discussions and brainstorming activities: